Tuesday Tip by Mary Lynn Wheaton, RDH, MA, Director of Consulting/Trainer

So You Want a Self-Directed Team?

Always our desire at Pride Institute is to create teams that are self-directed. So what does this mean, what does it look like, and, most importantly, how does one create a self-directed team?

First let’s define a team: a group of individuals banded together with a common purpose. And for whoever said “there is no “I” in team”, I beg to differ. A team is composed of individuals who bring their unique attributes and personalities to the workplace. A leader of a team must recognize each person for these characteristics and endeavor to bring out the best in each person and create an environment to allow each person to shine.

The challenges for the leader include his or her ability to 1) compose a heterogeneous team by excellent hiring in the first place; 2) make each person aware of the vision of the practice; and 3) maintain a culture where a team becomes emotionally competent.

Our work and training on Emotional Intelligence suggests that, even though individuals in a group can have high levels of “EI”characteristics - self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills - this does not necessarily make for an emotionally intelligent group. A group, like any social group, takes on its own character. Team emotional intelligence is more complicated than individual “EI”. The multiplier of complexity is the number of team members in the group!

Study after study has shown that teams are more creative, productive, and self-directed when they can achieve high levels of participation, cooperation, and collaboration among members. But this isn’t easy. The work of Daniel Goleman in his definitive book Emotional Intelligence suggests that three basic conditions need to be present before such behaviors can occur:
• Mutual trust among members,
• A sense of group identity (a feeling among members that they belong to a unique and worthwhile group),
• A sense of group efficacy (the belief that the team can perform well and that group members are more effective working together than apart).

Any and all of the above can only occur through communication at a high level. Team meetings are an essential ingredient for training and development as are individual meetings with team members to assure each person feels they are contributing effectively to the group. Effective verbal skills in confronting behaviors contrary to the vision of the practice or to the group culture are essential for all team members. Many teams make conscious efforts to build team spirit. Team-building outings, whether purely social or with more purposeful challenges being undertaken, are often useful for building this sense of collective Emotional Intelligence and fostering an affirmative environment – even encouraging proactive problem solving – thus the self-directed team.

We encourage our clients to be students of “EI” and to aspire to an environment where the team is in pursuit of their collective group “EI” being at the highest level possible. We encourage our teams this year to attend our 2018 Pride Team Summit in various locations around the country where teams will be breaking into job descriptions groups and competing in a Food Truck Challenge!!! The theme will be to celebrate the talent and expertise found within our teams when it comes to best practice models in their job descriptions and systems, as well as abilities to communicate effectively as high functioning collaborators. Check our website: www.prideinsitute.com for information on this Alumni team building event. This is a great way to get to your highest level of group Emotional Intelligence and a self-direction!

Originally posted on Facebook: March 6, 2018

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